Mar 292013
 

I have been playing RPGs my whole life, specifically JRPGs. I started with Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star 3 and those two games hooked me on the genre. Over the past few years JRPGs have been a little hit and VERY miss. A few good titles on the Wii come to mind, but other than that it was pretty bad out there. This year changed all that when Ni No Kuni came out on the Playstation 3. I had hope for the genre again and soon purchased the new Fire Emblem and Etrian Odyssey. They were both fine editions into the genre. Were they coming back? I had hoped so and possibly hyped myself up too much for the next JRPG I would play which was Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory. What a mouthful!

HyperdimensionNeptuniaVictory

(Warning, many of these screenshots I took as I was playing the game via my cell phone.)

 

I was a newcomer to the series, but I knew the game would have a strong focus on humor, parody, and fan service. Usually all of those things done right make for a great experience, but the key words are DONE RIGHT.

 photo IMAG0798_zps884c17f0.jpg

One of several video game references. I love Zelda!

The premise sounds wacky enough to be amazing. Picture a world called Gameindustri, where the countries are named to reflect different Video Game companies. Their leaders are typical anime girls who can transform into “hot” bad asses with typical armor and laser swords. There are video game references EVERYWHERE. These are fun to find for sure, but it’s like going on an Easter Egg hunt in a minefield.

 photo IMAG0797_zpsa0995e08.jpg

One of the quests you can do for the guild.

A typical segment is broken down like this. You access the main city’s area and have a bunch of sprites you can talk to. Most of them are there for flavor and what not. From there you either look for the right tab with “EVENT” written on it, or go to the guild and pick up quests. Them quests are your typical “Kill x” or “bring y” of something, which is fine, Nothing exciting, but no reason to get upset for sure.

 photo IMAG0802_zps86975e6b.jpg

Or hit Square to skip the whole thing…. If only it were that easy.

Here is where the main issue I have with the game. In order to progress the “story” you have to go to the places that say “EVENT.” Why is this bad? Well, it begins a mind numbing display of terrible ongoing dialogue. I am used to long periods of not playing or just pressing X occasionally to progress through story. I am perfectly fine with it, if it’s decent. I don’t know if something in the localization went horribly wrong, or if there was a writer’s strike going on. It’s bad. The information in these segments is mostly irrelevant attempts to be quirky, funny, and sometimes sexy. All of those attempts seem to fail. Only a little bit of the actual dialogue has to do with the loose “going back in time to an alternate world” storyline. Other than that, it’s pretty much girls insulting each other in very childish ways, or trying to be overly sexy. The other thing is they go on FOREVER. There is a skip button, which the characters actually mention. I decided to use it once, out of curiosity. You hit square and the text boxes start going by. You can still see the text going by at an incredibly fast rate. The function works well, except that for this particular moment I skipped, it took TWO MINUTES. Can you imagine if I just let them talk? I don’t think I could have handled that. Every time these characters would talk, I literally felt depressed. I honestly can’t remember the last time that has happened.

 photo IMAG0803_zps745cc85a.jpg

That’s the least of your worries.

 

Once you’ve woken up from dialogue coma, you can venture out into the world. There is a map where you pick locations to “explore.” These areas remind me of very bland Phantasy Star Online areas. The movement is very jerky and feels very unnatural. It’s the type of game where you can see the enemies before you fight them. Finally we get to a good part. The combat is actually kinda fun. HNV’s combat feels a little like a mix between Grandia 2 and Xenogears. Your characters can move around on the field of battle. Each weapon has an area it can attack in. The key is to line up the area so you can hit more than one of the enemies. Then you input commands similar to Xenogears. There are also neat skills you can use as well as the ability to transform and do even more damage. It’s a neat little battle system, but it does get stale rather quick. Often times you don’t exactly know what the enemies did or are doing because it flashes their actions on screen so quickly. Besides some of the monsters being references to other games, they are often sort of bland. While the combat is the best part of the game, that isn’t saying a whole lot.

hnv3

The soundtrack is also pretty decent. Then again it is Nobou Uematsu and the Earthbound Papa’s doing it. It isn’t his best work, but not everything can be as awesome as the Blue Dragon soundtrack. The voice acting isn’t that great either.

This doesn't even help the game.

This doesn’t even help the game.

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Pros: Combat is kind fun. Nobou Uematsu does the soundtrack.

Cons: Horrific dialogue, sub-par

story, clunky controls.

Value: I wouldn’t ever pay full price for this game. Maybe if you can get it on sale or used for ten bucks, MAYBE.

Verdict: Hyperdimension  Neptunia Victory is definitely not for me. If you are a fan of the series, you might find all these things super. The dialogue is just so bad and the story isn’t good enough to wade through all of that mess. Dialogue and Story are pretty key ingredients for any good JRPG and this one just seemed to miss both of those things. Unfortunately, I can’t see myself or anyone I know enjoying this game.

Score: 4

Feb 192013
 

Revengeance Title

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, as all fans of tactical espionage action and their grandmothers know, is the exciting new almost-sequel-but-mostly-spinoff of Hideo Kojima’s exalted Metal Gear franchise. The crazy things about this entry, of course are A) the genre shift from a stealth/shooter hybrid to a balls to the wall hardcore action game and B) Platinum Games being behind development with Hideki Kamiya (The freaking creator of Devil May Cry and Bayonetta) spearheading the insanity. This is not a Metal Gear game in the traditional sense. Pack up everything you thought you knew about the franchise (except for nanomachines of course) and get ready for one of the wildest rides the genre has to offer. Forget buckling up; seatbelts are for nerds. Continue reading »

Nov 182012
 

It’s that time of year again. That’s right friends! It’s time for all the “REAL GAMERS” to start bashing the Call of Duty franchise for the simple fact that it has a yearly release. Come on guys, seriously? It’s getting pretty old to be honest. This isn’t the only franchise that’s been doing it. Madden has always done it and Assassin’s Creed has been on a roll for a while too. Call of Duty isn’t for everyone, but a lot of people like them and buy them. If they weren’t making money, I seriously doubt they’d be making the game yearly. Of course, popular doesn’t always mean good.

Personally I’ve preferred the Black Ops titles a little more than Modern Warfare. Black Ops often has a wacky story that almost gives you a Hideo Kojima vibe. Being a Metal Gear fan, this sweetens the deal. The campaign for Black Ops 2 seems no different. Woods and Mason return in the form of playable flashbacks, while going into the future to 2025. It makes for a fun plot device overall. The campaign feels like a thrill ride. It’s a little linear, but at the same time stuff is ALWAYS going on, like explosions, horses, tanks, and even robots! It really gets the blood pumping and looks great. The visuals are some of the best I’ve seen and the sound is very crisp. The controls feel tight on the PS3 controller, all the buttons feel natural and the guns have that pop to them.

I honestly didn’t play as much of the campaign as I would like to, but I sort of ran into a problem. Not a common problem, but I’ve seen where people have shared it. Basically on one of the missions, three quarters into it (maybe 45 minutes of play time so far) I am asked to go down this ladder into a “Cocaine Bunker.” Ok, sounds easy enough. I follow the NPCs and they open the door to the room, then the hatch to the ladder below. They each go down the ladder one by one. All clear, it’s my turn. I go to climb down the ladder, and BAM! Invisible wall. Apparently there is a crazy glitch that makes you unable to go down this ladder. I looked up some advice online to see what I could do, and I threw a grenade at the wall and blew myself up. I Started back at the check point and waited for them to open the hatch again. Guess what guys? I STILL couldn’t go down the ladder. I suddenly felt uneasy and angry. I shifted in my seat for a moment wondering what I should do. I read that restarting the level might fix it. Ugh, nothing takes the wind from my sails like having to start over. I eventually gave in and did the level again up to that point. Then at the moment of truth I paused and thought for a moment. I unpaused and let it happen. I stepped forward to the ladder and took a deep breath. Nothing. Still bugged. I gotta say, that is REALLY crappy. Now, keep in mind that I am a rare case. This bug doesn’t happen to everyone, but it CAN happen.

Aside from terrible game halting bugs, Black Ops 2 has some other redeeming qualities. Strike Force Missions are a new addition to the franchise and really mix it up. They are essentially optional missions in the campaign, but are very different. Think RTS/FPS/Sandboxy/Hybrid. Yeah, exactly. It’s fun but very challenging if you are not used to it. Basically you are trying to accomplish something on a decently sized map. You have units you can control “from above” like in an RTS, or you can take control of a unit at any time and run around in FPS mode. It definitely mixes up the game play, and if you don’t like them in the story mode, then you can skip them.

Enough of this, we all know why everyone buys a Call of Duty game, and that is the multiplayer. That works just fine and is an absolute joy to play. There are a ton of match types and maps to play in. I don’t know why, but it’s one of those games I always get sucked in to. Aside from most FPSs, I don’t feel like I am terrible at this one. I mean I don’t feel like a pro or anything, but I can hold my own typically. I am a sucker for leveling up to unlock guns and attachments, and Black Ops 2 has all of that and more. The new create a class gives you ten points to work with. Each thing you equip costs a point, so customization is trickier but at the same time it can allow you to focus on your best equipment. I hardly use a sidearm, so I can drop that to get extra perks and what not. The emblem creator is also fun to toy with. I’ve seen some great pictures of these emblems from varied creative individuals. It inspired me to give it a try.
Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

 

Aside from the public matches, there is also a league play mode which matches you with opponents of the same skill. There is also a robust theater mode used for watching saved matches and editing them so you can share them with your friends. You will also be able to stream your game play for others to watch, which kinda sounds neat!

One last thing to talk about is the Zombie mode. If you’ve heard any of our podcasts lately, you know I’ve been anti-zombie for a while. I am personally just sick of the over-saturation. I would normally not go near anything with the word zombies on it, but since Activision was gracious enough to give us this review copy, I felt I had to give it some time. I am certainly glad I did. The zombie mode in the original Black Ops was pretty fun to play, but in Black Ops 2 it does everything better! Now with a story mode and even more areas for multiplayer survival games, Black Ops 2 Zombies is great. The 4z4 grief mode is fantastic as well. 4z4 is where two teams compete against the zombies. The rules are that the last team standing wins. While you can’t kill the other team in traditional ways, you can direct a train of zombies into them or throw meat at your opponents to make them smell delicious to zombies. It’s an absolute blast!


Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

ProsGreat visuals, Multiplayer is fantastic as always. Zombie mode is great even for anti zombie fans. 4z4! I am addicted to the Emblem creator!
ConsTERRIBLE GAME BREAKING BUG.
VerdictMost people seem to buy this game for multiplayer anyways, and it is fantastic. Myself I enjoy a good campaign. Black Ops had a fantastic one and Black Ops 2 clearly had a great story lined up, unfortunately a terrible game breaking bug stops me in my tracks every time I play. Its frustrating cause I wanna know what happens. While my experience with the bug is uncommon, its still there. If you are willing to risk it, go for it and get it. The multiplayer is still fantastic as always and who knows, you might not experience the bug.
Rating
75%

Nov 142012
 

I get way too excited for HD re-releases. Nothing beats that feeling of a fusion of nostalgia and awe that comes with revisiting a classic game from the past with a fresh coat of high-definition paint. Sure, sometimes it doesn’t work because either something goes wrong or the game in question isn’t interesting enough in the right ways to justify the touch up, but I’ll eat my words if I encounter a set of games more fitting for such a treatment than Zone of the Enders. Continue reading »

Sep 132012
 

Man, every time I get wind of a new arcade style brawler coming to a contemporary console I jump on the hype train and stay on that sucker all the way until release. Especially if the game in question is a wild re-imagining of one of the great classics of its respective era. Sure, sometimes the situation ends in tragedy (Turtle soup, anyone?) but it’s a risk I am always willing to take. This time around Wayforward, developers of games like Shantae: Risky’s Revenge and Contra 4, found themselves behind an attempt to revive the once legendary Double Dragon franchise. Double Dragon has a bit of a rocky history, and even though it was featured prominently on The Wizard, doesn’t have much of a claim to fame these days. It’s a shame, but Wayforward took the property and knocked it so far out of the park it still has yet to hit the ground. Continue reading »

Sep 112012
 

 

August 2012 marked the fourth time a North American publisher ventured to give Way of the Samurai another shot. Never much of a success critically or otherwise, the series has managed to hang on through a small, dedicated fanbase and the word of mouth that tends to come with. To give developer Acquire credit where credit is due, they have clearly put forth a lot of effort to make each sequel a more full experience than the last. This time around, Acquire focused largely on streamlining the experience, making it easier to make your way through the myriad options you’re presented with the moment you start the game. Continue reading »

Aug 202012
 

Legasista is NIS America’s latest from developer System Prisma. If that doesn’t ring any bells, they’re the dev responsible for the Cladun series, which provided some of the best dungeon crawling and character customization the PSP had to offer. Cladun x2 in particular was so cool it was just ported over to Steam, a commendable first for NIS America. Shockingly enough, Legasista is a…dungeon crawler. But seriously, the real surprise here is that unlike its predecessors, Legasista is frankly pretty boring. Continue reading »

Aug 132012
 

I never know what to expect from Arc System Works. On one hand you have their flagship titles that are updated and re-released for the sake of fine-tuning, and on the other you have their wacky, goofily broken one-offs such as Battle Fantasia and Hokuto no Ken. I’ve always enjoyed their games, usually filled to the brim with frantic energy and myriad crazy combo capabilities. I’m also a big fan of RPGs, especially ATLUS’ Shin Megami Tensei franchise. So, imagine my excitement for the announcement that Arcsys and ATLUS were to join forces, bringing together crisp 2D visuals, fluid animations, and one of the greatest games to grace the PS2: Persona 4. Even better, it took no time at all after popping the disc into my PS3 to realize that Persona 4 Arena is a fantastic game, and probably one of the greatest franchise spin-off fighters I’ve ever played.

Continue reading »

Jun 222012
 

One of the greatest aspects of the ever-growing digital games market is the re-releasing of original versions of classic games. I especially  love when older games that are hard to find and sought after are released for much more reasonable prices than you could ever hope to pay for them before. It’s not just because it makes playing them easier. I was never above emulation if I didn’t have a better option. What I really love is that every time a publisher gets a hold of and re-releases a crazy license for some bizarre Japanese game they’re essentially giving the middle finger to every jerk on the internet trying to take advantage of curious gamers for much more than these games ever retailed. It’s especially great when it isn’t some boring jRPG that everyone has already played and talked to death. Tomba! is one of those games. Monkey Paw Games has brought another zany PSone cult classic to the PlayStation Network, and for that they’re heroes in my eyes. Continue reading »

May 302012
 

There are a lot of games out there that involve shooting people. I’d dare to say that more than half the video game market is made up of these types of games. Sure, there are different spins to these games like past, present, future, third person, first person, space, land, sea, air, and cover based to name a few. There are also a lot of successful series in this populated genre. Ghost Recon is one of them, but is Future Soldier fun and interesting enough to make it stand out from the others?

Starting off the game, you and your squad are killed in an explosion, which leads your squad to fulfill the missions they were given to get some sort of revenge as well as to stop a terrorist plot. I bet you are on the edge of your seat, filled with excitement, as you can’t believe such originality. Kidding aside, that whole plot base has been used a million times, but at least with Ghost Recon, the campaign has a nice flow to it. So while it isn’t new, it’s still sort of entertaining and keeps you playing.

Graphically, the game looks good. It definitely looks as good as a game of this generation should. Attention to detail in weapons and equipment is well done. There is also a sort of user interface aesthetic that represents what your goggles display that looks pretty neat. Random bits of information floating in the air connecting to things on an imaginary grid give the game its “future soldier” feel. The active camo is pretty sweet too. It reminded me of Metal Gear Solid 4, and we all know how awesome that was.

What things can you customize in Gunsmith?

The coolest thing about Future Soldier is the Gunsmith mode. With Gunsmith you can totally customize your guns from the trigger, the sight, the barrel, and everything else guns are made of. These other parts of the guns are unlocked by completing missions or completing challenges. The amount of customization options for these guns is unreal. You can essentially build a gun for every situation. How you customize your guns definitely affects how you perform in the campaign.

ALL THE THINGS

The game play feels pretty good. For the most part it is a lot of finding cover and shooting the other guys in cover as well as sneaking about and taking out enemies silently. One thing that’s really fun is being able to mark up to four enemies. Then on your go, you and your squad mates kill the four marked targets at the same time. Really gives you that feeling of being in a squad. The AI in your squad is pretty good too. They will help you stay alive as long as you don’t do anything silly. At the same time, they don’t make the missions a cake walk either.

The multiplayer is what most people getting this game will probably be interested in. It does not disappoint. You have access to three classes that you can level up and customize. Engineer is a support class that has access to scanning probes and what not. They essentially help you find the enemy and try and keep you hidden. Soldier is pretty straight forward; he’s the guy with the guns on the front lines. Scouts can use active camo and sniper rifles. As you play matches, you gain experience points from killing, defending, capturing, and winning. As you level up you unlock new guns and attachments. The gunsmith mode in multiplayer is a little different in that you also unlock attachment credits. These you use to unlock the various parts to customize your weapons.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

ProsGreat graphics, GUNSMITH is awesome! Addicting Multiplayer
ConsTypical foil terrorist plot. TWO TITLE SCREENS?! Each title screen has a long loading time too.
VerdictThe new Ghost Recon is a great addition for fans as well as a good starting point. It really doesn’t do too much different, but it still does it well.
Rating
80%